Drawing with painted paper: cut-paper basics for illustrators and artists | Samantha Grenier | Skillshare

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Drawing with painted paper: cut-paper basics for illustrators and artists

teacher avatar Samantha Grenier, Color engineer. Illustrator. Macrame artist.

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (22m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Style

    • 3. Tools

    • 4. Sketching

    • 5. Papers with Paper Painting Demo

    • 6. Cutting Paper

    • 7. Assignment and Demo

    • 8. Closing

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About This Class

Tissue paper is a refreshing medium for illustrations. It uses light and transparency to create texture and shadow in an image. It's a classic technique which can be as simple or complex. This course is designed for curious artist; those about the medium. While any paper can be utilized for collage, the central focus of this class is surrounding tissue paper as the primary medium.

In this class, you will learn all the basics for creating a complete cut tissue paper art. By the end of the class, you should be armed with basics to complete a cut paper illustration:

  • Cut paper friendly drawings
  • Necessary tools for the trade
  • Paper painting techniques
  • How to "draw" with paper
  • How to assemble your piece layer by layer
  • How to add detail & refine your drawing

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Samantha Grenier

Color engineer. Illustrator. Macrame artist.


Hello, I'm Samantha. I'm an illustrator, graphic designer, macrame enthusiast, and lover of all things elephants. 

Driven by color and textures, I'm most inspired by Eric Carle's tissue paper technique. I decorate my own papers by hand for each project, so each piece has some unique elements. My drawings are typically hand cut from the papers then scanned to later receive a kiss from digital retouching. I believe the simplest shapes lead to the most graphic impact, especially when they are paired with brilliant color and texture. ​Though I'm fascinated by lots-lots-lots of picture book artist, my heroes include: Eric Carle (naturally), Leo Lionni, Liz Murphy, Kate Endle, and Melissa Sweet. 
I am a freelance Graphic Designer and Illustrator. I am the proud ... See full profile

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1. Intro: so wouldn't you like to draw with paper? Hello. My name is Samantha Grenier. I'm a mixed media artist from New England area, and I specialize in drawing with paper for the past decade of established myself primarily as a cut paper illustrator. The root of my love for this illustration technique was established early on in my childhood. I was obsessed with the books of Eric Karl and Leo Leonie. This naturally led me to specialize in Children's book our while I was in college. This class is really great for beginners to seasoned illustrators, even just artists that are exploring as long as you can apply paint to paper and know how to use some scissors or craft knife. This is the class for you. I'm gonna teach you the basics and foundations in cut paper illustrations. This isn't many workshop. I'm gonna teach you my process for cut paper art. We're going to make a quick drawing, refine it using tracing paper and break it down into basic shapes. They only cut from each of the piece of the paper we've painted. Finally, we're going to reassemble the pieces to form a finished work of art. It's amazing what you can create with painted paper and just a few shapes. Well, you can visualize what your piece will look like in your head. You never truly know what you're going tohave. In the end, let's get paper drawing. 2. Style: cut paper lends itself well to illustrators who work in shapes. So if you have a very basic line drawing, your pieces will easily translate into cut paper. If you're just starting out in cut paper, recommend trying to cut as few pieces as possible. Work larger versus working small. It will be easier to assemble the pieces in the end. If you're not hunting around, try to figure out the orientation of a lot of teeny tiny pieces. As I mentioned in the intro, Eric Karl and Leo Leonie were key sources of inspiration to me. Look at their artwork closely. Using just a few cuts, the paper itself is creating a volume of character. Lois Eigler is a rock star, using this just simple geometric shapes to create dynamic subjects and characters. A teardrop or heart shaped can be used to create a paddle of a flower or the wings of a butterfly. The painted paper surface is going to sing through those simple shapes to make that subject matter. Coming toe life well. There are a number of car artists who made their careers by detailed cuts. We're going to let the paper surface do the work for us by using texture to form shadows and movement and also transparency 3. Tools: Let's go over some of the tools you need to complete an illustration. You can need a sketchbook or some drawing paper. You can use loosely copy paper. Anything you have lying around, you're gonna need a pencil and an eraser. And unless you're using a mechanical pencil, you're gonna need a sharpener to I recommend working in a hard lead pencil such as your every day. Number two. I use the hard pencils because they don't tend to smear or smudge as much as soft leads. If you use a pencil to transfer your drawing onto the surface of your final canvas, it will appear a bit lighter than the soft lead in pencils. If you're working with transparent papers such as tissue paper, you may not want those pencil markings to appear through your final artwork tracing paper. I use tracing paper to make my final drawings because I found that it's more forgiving with an eraser. Plus because you can see through to the paper as you work. This eliminates the need for a light table, and because it's transparent, you can align the template up with brush strokes and patterns or textures. You desire scissors now I don't use scissors in the demo, but you could most certainly use them if you feel more comfortable than using a craft knife , craft knife and replacement blades. There are other artists using surgical scalpels, but craft knives could be found just about anywhere from a craft shop to an office supply store. Well, you may have a knife on hand. Be sure you have enough replacement blades. They dull very quickly, so buying the blades in bulk is ideal. I managed to get through this whole project with a single blade, but again, really cutting a few small pieces air. Some caution. It should go without saying, but cuts happen rarely, but they can. So the sharper your blades A little less likely, your knife will snag and hop on the surface. If you're using a craft knife, you'll need to cutting surface. Aamodt, designed for cutting into, is essential. I highly recommend acrylic panes if you're gonna be painting up your own papers. I have used water, color and wash in the past, but what you want to bear in mind is that you're gonna be applying more liquid to the finished cut pieces, so you run the risk of paint spreading and bleeding onto the rest of your artwork. Ingles. Great, because it's liquidy and flew across your surface, and they have a nice color intensity. Just be sure to select an ink that's not washable to prevent them from bleeding onto your surface. And, of course, we'll need some brushes. Whatever you have on hand will work fine. No need to purchase any new ones. I recommend archival, clear drawing glue or Matt Medium for cut paper art. However, you can also use double sided sticky tape. In this demo, I'll be using that medium to glue down the paper pieces. It's a little on the expensive side. If you do not have that medium on hand every day, white glue will work. Just be sure when you're selecting a glue that it's archival. This means that it shouldn't yellow or deteriorate Over time. You can use a glue stick again. Remember acid free and archival qualities and which will dry clear. Just don't forget the brush. If you're working with liquid adhesives, you're going to need to paste your final illustration onto something. The surface is really up to you, depending on the scale of your finished piece and how much glue you plan to apply to the surface for this project. I'm using card stock. It holds up against Matt medium quite well. Well, it can wriggle and curl a little bit. It can't handle a lot of glue before it gets to that state. I prefer using student grade illustration, board or mat boards with a slight toothy surface. Smooth surface boards are a little more slippery, so they are ideal. If you want to be able to slide your pieces around a bit before letting them dry to permanence, you'll see me using washing tape in the demo to tack down my drawing. It's very handy. They use a low tack or reposition herbal tape if you need to do this, too. Pens and markers. I use them for detail ng if you have them. If you plan to mark up paper with markers and pens or ink, just be sure that the things they're not washable or water soluble, otherwise they will bleed onto your campus. When you go to glue your final art together, you need to paint your papers on something, and I recommend putting down newsprint wax paper or butcher block, paper, paper bags or even contact paper. If you choose to use the pdf I provide, you may need a printer. I do use a photo retouching software to finish most of my pieces. However, it's not necessary. If you'd like to share your finished artwork in the classroom, you can scan your pieces into the computer, or you could just take a photo with your camera or cell phone. 4. Sketching: for myself. Portrait. I'm gonna show you how I sketch my own and then I'm gonna go back and show you how I complete an illustration with the templates provided. So let's start with the sketch. I'm going to draw my self portrait. I'm working off the pdf that I've provided for you in the classroom. Once I've got the initial copy done, you'll see it's sketchy and less than pretty at this point from here, we're going to refine our drawing. I'm just gonna copy over the lines I want to keep. Now that I have a completed drawing were you lay a piece of tracing paper on top of my sketch, I'm gonna trace over the pieces which are going to come from the same sheet of colored paper. - At this point, I'll start painting my papers because I have a better idea of which colors I need 5. Papers with Paper Painting Demo: Let's go over some of the papers. There are some great of tissue paper, which are less likely to tear than others, but that takes experimentation. Gather up any tissue paper you received from gifts. Those work well, so there's usually no need to run out and buy more. What I love about tissue paper is that it is transparent. So when you go to lay down a piece on top of one another, you may get a completely new effect. This can be controlled to say you don't want your tissue paper to be too transparent. You conglomerate down to another surface after it's been painted, such as card stock or coffee paper, and then cut those pieces from their cons to tissue paper said it tears and wrinkles. What I love most about tissue paper is the brush strokes are illuminated when they're applied to the surface. You get a lot of texture and transparency where working with something so fin, don't be afraid of gloving on the paint too thickly. Either it can handle more than you think. Just be sure to lift the paper up off the surface before it dries completely to prevent it from sticking. You can also use your tracing paper as a painted surface just treated the same way you would as tissue paper. It is a bit more dense, so it can take a lot more paint and ink. It wrinkles, but it's still great. This is my favorite paper to work with. It's built to absorb water so it takes a beating and can handle a lot of paint and ink. This type of paper still has a bit of transparency to it, but it doesn't tend to tear as easily as tissue paper. It does, however, absorb color, So if you really want a saturated tone, you may need to apply a couple layers of paint to get the saturation you want. While this paper really holds its shape and doesn't wrinkle too much, you are limited by scale. The largest coffee filters I have found are a bit harder to come by, so if you need to cut larger pieces, you may need to take to the Internet to find bigger filters. Well thicker than tissue paper, this paper still comes with some transparency. Even when it's painted, it tends to wrinkle a bit because it's still relatively thin. I usually use newsprint as a surface cover to paint my papers on, but you could most certainly paint it up for your finished art. This paper doesn't usually have as much transparency as copy paper say, but it can still buckle and wrinkle. If you're working with watery paints, it takes. Try brushing very well, however, and may dry a bit faster than other paper stocks because it drinks up the moisture. These surfaces can take a lot of paint. Well, they can curl, wrinkle a tiny bit. If you're using a lot of pain or ink, they remain fairly smooth and can be flattened when they dry. I like to use grocery bags just street as they are. They can be painted, of course, but the ink service maybe less saturated. You can apply a layer of gesso to prevent the color from absorbing into the paper so this could be prevented. Grocery bags tend to be made mostly of recycled materials, thes days, so the paint me absorb into the surface unevenly again. Grocery bags tend to drink up moisture very quickly so they may drive faster than most other papers. You may gravitate to novelty paper. If you do not want to paint your own surface, you may find a lovely texture you like, but it's not the right color, so you can paint over it. Or you may find something in scrapbooking papers, which worked wonderfully for your project. Just use those. This could be wood grain or glitter paper. Something handmade something with a nice linen texture. Just bear in mind when approaching scrapbooking papers. You are limited by scale, and some surfaces, such as acid Tate may not accept paint or think very well. I would suggest avoiding licensed papers to avoid copyright issues. I normally keep a rainbow assortment of papers ready at all times, which I have repainted. But if I don't have a particular paper I want at this point, I'll go ahead and make it. Now. The Navy blue is made up from ultra Marine with a smidge of burnt number have already gone ahead and pre painted the pinky peach tones for my skin and the brown for my hair. I didn't bother filling those beds because there was very little mark making involved in those pieces with the dress. I'm trying to imitate the floral motif without actually making flowers. I kept it simple with tabs and spatters. When I paint my own paper, I like toe. Let the paint strokes and streaks stand out. It makes each cuts special. 6. Cutting Paper: Now we need to cut these pieces from the painted paper. Once the paper has dried, I'll lay out the painted sheets of paper or, in this case, coffee filters on top of my cutting mat and then align the pattern pieces where I'd like them to be cut. It's a good idea to arrange the pieces where they belong in the final drawing as you cut the pieces out. Now I've got to put this drawing back together. 7. Assignment and Demo: your assignment for this class is to create a self portrait. This is a classic assignment from drawing one on one. Does it have to be your self portrait? No, but it does have to be a person, and it needs to be assembled from cut paper. What you need to do is draw your self portrait, refine your drawing to tracing paper, retrace groupings of the color pieces, cut these pieces from the painted paper paste your drawing together and then share. Now let's finish this drawing. 8. Closing: be sure to share your finish portrait with the class of we cannot who and your creation feel free to use the pdf templates I provide in the classroom Resource is to kick start your assignment. Cut paper illustration looks very complicated when you really whittle it down to its basics there just simple shapes and you create that texture and life from just the paper itself. I would love to see your work. This assignment shouldn't take too long. If you prepare your papers ahead of time, you can work off of the templates provided. Please, please share. You know how I create my art. I hope you had fun. Now it's time for you. Put your skill to practice. I can't wait to see what you come up with.